'Further escalation' possible as teachers vote to continue industrial action on the Isle of Man

The Department of Education, and the teachers' union, will meet again next after calls for de-escalation. Credit: PA Images

Members of a teachers' union on the Isle of Man have voted to continue taking industrial action.

In its latest vote, 82% of members voted in support of strike action with 92% in support of action short of strike.

The teachers who are union members are taking industrial action over pay, workload and working practices.

Due to an ongoing dispute between The Department of Education, Sport and Culture (DESC) and the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), some staff are no longer supervising break times in the morning.

This led to some schools asking certain year groups to stay at home as "safety could not be guaranteed".

NASUWT’s General Secretary, Dr Patrick Roach, said: "Our members have reaffirmed their determination to take action to demand a better deal for all teachers in the Isle of Man.

"The DESC is mistaken if they think teachers are prepared to accept a substantially below-inflation pay offer while they have seen the value of their pay fall by around 30% in real terms since 2010."

Ballakermeen is one of two schools who have had to ask some year groups to stay at home due to the industrial action. Credit: Ballakermeen High School

DESC acknowledges that a pay increase has been recommended by the Independent School Teachers Review Body in the UK and, if approved, could see all the Island’s teachers receive between a 5% and 8.9% increase from September 2022.

"Unless significant progress is forthcoming from the DESC, there is a real risk of further escalation of industrial action, including strike action.

"The responsibility for disruption in schools rests with the DESC. It is within their power to deliver the fair pay and working conditions that teachers need and deserve", Dr Patrick Roach added.

DESC has reiterated that it is “working with them to find an equitable solution.”

Earlier this year, the department introduced London fringe pay scales and an additional Isle of Man weighting of 1%.

Minister for Education, Sport and Culture, Julie Edge, said: "I greatly value the teaching profession and remain committed to resolving all issues, which have been raised.

"Recognising the need to address three key elements for the profession, recruitment, retention and an affordable and sustainable pay increase.

"I appreciate progress can sometimes appear slower than we would all wish it to be, but it is important to ensure that solutions are appropriate and sustainable for the future.

"Schools will endeavour to operate as normal as possible during this escalation and the safeguarding and wellbeing of our students’ continue to be at the heart of all decision making."

DESC will meet with the NASUWT next week and again calls for the de-escalation of actions.